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He said that the Prefects were responsible for the discipline of the boys. The Prefects had the authority to administer three slaps with a leather strap on the palm of the hand. The Prefect was obliged to record the incident in the punishment book. The Rector, Fr Fabiano,9 would periodically review this book. Further punishment could only be administered with the consent of the Rector. He said that this consent would only be given in severe cases, and he stated that he personally could not remember any incident where further and extra punishment was administered.
When asked if the Rector was aware of the fact that excessive punishment was being administered, he stated: If he wasn’t Blind, deaf and dumb, he must have known: but he didn’t know any better. In my years as prefect there was a punishment book, wherein we, prefects had to write in all punishment – three slaps were allowed. This was Fr Fabiano’s idea: it ended with him.
The reason for his transfer was that he had been interfering with the boys in Upton, and the details were set out in a letter from the Irish Provincial, Fr Placido, to the Superior General, Fr Lucca,35 in which he said that the Brother: Who had been previously warned by the Rector [Fr Fabiano] and myself has not been discreet cum pueris [with boys] and is a periculum [danger] to them so I have been compelled to send him to the Novitiate house where circumstances are different.
Fr Fabiano, Resident Manager at Upton, wrote to the Provincial at Rome referring to this Brother. He said that he had done nothing more about an episode concerning him. He added: as it would be needlessly bringing things into the limelight again and I could do nothing without authority. The assertion about [Br Fausto] came up casually as having happened in the past and I decided that the prudent thing to do was leave it in the past while you decided what should be done. My own opinion about the matter is that he should quietly get a change and be taken out of the danger because it will always be there.
Fr Montes went on to give advice about procedure ‘in cases like these’: Even though the situation was difficult and dangerous, Fr Fabiano should have spoken with Gilberto before sending him to Kilmurry. He could have told him it was in his best interests to be sent away from Upton for the time being in order to put an end to gossip. I feel for Fr Fabiano because he was in a delicate situation, but experience has taught me in cases like these one has to let the person accused have his say. Otherwise, he will always be able to argue that he was condemned without being given the opportunity to defend himself.
Br Alfonso said he reported these individuals to his then Superiors, Fr Fabiano and Fr Alanzo. Fr Orsino, Provincial of the Order, was also involved in the reporting of one of these individuals. He said that, when he reported these people, he was never given any indication about whether they had any previous history of abuse: These things were not tossed around among the Superiors nor were they ever mentioned at a table at any time, they were always kept secret.
In their statements, the boys who admitted such sexual activity with each other gave explicit details of the acts, which took place in a number of locations such as the kitchen attached to the infirmary, the farm, water closets, the dormitory and the infirmary. One of the boys complained in his statement that he had been anally raped on approximately 10 occasions during his time there. He said that he told one of the Brothers what this boy was doing to him but, when the matter was reported to the Resident Manager, Fr Fabiano, the latter beat him. This boy named five other boys with whom he had committed these acts.
The Resident Manager of Upton, Fr Fabiano, followed up this representation with a letter to the State Solicitor in 1944. He stated that the School had been aware of sexual activity amongst the boys in question, and had dealt with the two boys at that time who ‘afterwards became very good’. He impressed upon the State Solicitor that no good would be derived from prosecuting the two boys who had now changed their ways and were now upright citizens. He said: We believe that we have attained our object when we make of these boys upright law abiding citizens, but it is now unjust to draw into the limelight the sins of their youth or perhaps I should say misdemeanours as they may not have been sins at all.
Fr Fabiano took a benign view: I wonder if the law in this case is being interpreted rightly or if the name attributed to the crime of adults can rightly be applied to children who often may not know that they are breaking the law of God let alone the law of the State.
This letter evoked a quick and indignant response from both the Resident Manager and the Provincial at Upton. The Resident Manager in his letter to the Department admitted that ‘we do get odd cases of immorality’, but ‘I most emphatically deny that this school is the den of iniquity implied in your letter’. Fr Fabiano defended the management of the School in unequivocal terms, stating: It has always been my greatest anxiety to see that the boys are moral in every way and that they are never exposed to any risk, whatsoever, in other words as far as it is humanly possible this particular danger is guarded against.